Thursday, June 13, 2024

Navigating the Storm: A Guide to Big Picture Event Storming

To grasp a comprehensive overview of our business arena, we will conduct a Big Picture Event Storming workshop. This will acquaint us with the domain, providing sufficient knowledge to make several key architectural decisions, such as delineating the preliminary boundaries of our services.

Today, we delve into the intricacies of the Big Picture Workshop. Armed with this understanding, we will embark on a thorough exploration of the workshop’s application to the Training Center domain starting next week.

Building Blocks

During our session, I recommend to gradually build up a legend to facilitate a clearer understanding for all participants. This incremental approach ensures each concept is comprehensively grasped.
  • Event - anything that takes place or happens, detailed further in a previous article.
  • Hot Spot - a marker for issues, queries, or areas needing attention.
  • Opportunity - an idea that could introduce beneficial enhancements or simplifications.
  • Actors - individuals or groups pivotal in the occurrence of an event.
  • System - the system with which we interact.
  • Value - used to denote events that generate benefits, such as financial gain or recognition.
  • Risk - employed to flag events that could result in losses, including financial penalties or other detriments

Key Steps

Below is a series of deliberate steps to guide our workshop:

  • Chaotic Exploration – This initial phase is dedicated to generating a multitude of events. I divide this step in two distinct stages:
    • Events Discovery – participants claim their own space on the wall to independently brainstorm events. The emphasis is on identifying Events, although sticky notes for Hot Spots and Opportunities can also be used.
    • De-duplication of Events – collectively, we review the events to eliminate redundancies, refine descriptions, and improve the vocabulary. From this point forward, the addition of new events, hot spots, or opportunities is encouraged, ensuring all participants are kept abreast of fresh insights.

  • Enforcing Timeline – during that phase we try to sequence the events chronologically along a timeline.

  • Identifying Pivotal Events – the focus here is to pinpoint the most critical events that command the most interest and are vital for advancing the process. These pivotal events will later help to establish the bounded contexts.

  • Defining Swimlanes – in this stage, we categorize events that are closely linked and sequential. Occasionally, a category may consist of a single event. These events are initiated by the same Actor. It’s important to note that a swimlane differs from a business process; multiple swimlanes can often represent various facets of a single extensive business process. However, in certain cases, a straightforward process may correspond directly to a swimlane.

  • Incorporating Actors – the goal is to determine which individuals or groups are instrumental in the occurrence of events.

  • Identifying Systems – we identify the systems that will be interacting with.

  • Recognizing Values and Risks – at this point, we encourage participants to attach sticky notes that denote ‘value’ or ‘risk’ next to the events they believe influence profits or losses. This, coupled with the identification of pivotal events, sharpens our focus on the domain’s most significant elements.

When to Dive into Chaos or Follow the Timeline

As outlined in the previous section, there’s a variety of steps you may follow during the workshop. It’s important to remember that the objective is to deepen our understanding of the business, not merely to check off steps as completed.

When it comes to initiating the workshop, I don’t always adhere to a fixed starting point. While Chaotic Exploration is often my go-to, there are times when Enforcing the Timeline takes precedence. My decision hinges on the following considerations:
  • Chaotic Exploration: This approach is favored when:
    • A group has several members (at least 3-4) with insights into the business domain, even if their knowledge spans different areas.
    • We’re delving into established businesses, processes, or software, where diverse perspectives on operational elements can be enlightening.
    • We’re venturing into new, uncharted areas of the business.

  • Enforcing Timeline: This method is selected when:
    • The group is small, with only 1-2 individuals knowledgeable about the business. In such cases, I prompt them to narrate their experiences. Depending on the situation, we may revert to Chaotic Exploration after their storytelling.

After the session

As we conclude the session, it’s natural to encounter a myriad of unresolved queries and lively discussions. You’ll notice several processes remain unexplored, with certain nuances and complex scenarios not fully addressed. It’s possible that some processes may not function as anticipated based on our discussions. However, this is all part of the process. 
At this point of time, the goal isn’t to resolve every question or to achieve a flawless understanding of the business domain. Instead, we’ve illuminated the intricacies involved, heightened awareness of the challenges, and sparked conversations that pave the way for clarity and a shared language. 

Well done! While there’s more ground to cover, this is an excellent beginning!


Facilitating a workshop is a complex endeavor, so I urge you to acquaint yourself with the information I’ve outlined in the previous articles

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